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Relationships and Community
I’ve linked here and there to Brad Blanton’s Radical Honesty site, and I strongly recommend that just about anyone read the book of the same name. I am indebted to my chosen brother Ron for recommending the book to me, but I have to admit that it took me a couple of attempts to read it—like so many things, I had to wait until I was ready to hear its message. Today, I strive to practice full honesty in all of my relationships, but I hesitate to talk about practicing radical honesty because it has garnered some negative connotations due to misunderstandings.
Practicing true honesty doesn’t mean being an asshole. It means being honest in the spirit of love. You don’t throw what Ron calls “truth bombs,” you tell the truth with compassion, and stick around for any fallout. If someone says, “What do you think of my speech?” and it was terrible, you don’t say, “It was fine, honey,” because it wasn’t. Neither do you say, “That sucked.” You say, “I don’t think it expressed your point very well,” or “I feel that it wasn’t your best work. Would you like me to help you prepare next time?” or whatever (if you’re willing to help, anyway). And you listen.
By lying, I mean either stating or implying something that isn’t true, or isn’t wholly true, or withholding the truth about something. In the context of relationships, I don’t personally think it’s vital to share every thought that crosses our minds, but if something affects the relationship in any way, it needs to be shared. If your partner has bad breath you need to say so, right away. If you overspent on groceries and can’t put gas in the car, you need to say so, right away. If you’re finding yourself very attracted to a co-worker, that’s something to share. Yes, there’s going to be a reaction, but in every case it’s healthier for the relationship to get things out in the open than to withhold the truth.
When you lie to anyone with whom you’re in relationship, you have to lie to yourself first to some extent. You have to lie about the fact that it won’t matter, or that you won’t get caught out, or someting, but you have to lie to yourself, and it hurts you somehow if you aren’t broken inside. (If you’re a sociopath, psychopath, narcissist, etc. you’re beyond the scope of this article.)
Not only do you hurt yourself, but you put energy into hiding whatever it is that you lied about, and keeping up with your lies. It prevents intimacy, because there’s something coming between you. Telling the truth is simpler and takes less energy, and doesn’t get in the way of intimacy.